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Monday, June 8, 2009

Pontypool - Finally, The Review

Finally. Finally I get to share my take on Pontypool. If you are wondering why I say "finally", let's review my Pontypool post history: Feb 28th, March 2nd, March 4th, March 20th, May 20th, as well as several references not mentioned here. So, needless to say, I've been pretty excited to see this movie. Did it meet up to my expectations? Was it worth the wait? Does it actually contain zombies? Read on, my friends, and your questions will be answered.

First, huge thanks go out to Maple Pictures and IFC Films (especially Nat) for politely dealing with my bombardment of emails and for the screener to actually post this review. Pontypool is currently seeing a limited theater release and is available from IFC Films On Demand.

My immediate take? Go see it. For someone who has been waiting several months to see this movie and has been following its seemingly slow movement over the border from Canada, I can tell you I was not disappointed. Because I do not want to ruin the movie for anyone, I have several reviews listed. The first is as generic as you can get. The second, will disclose some plot details and may ruin a few surprises but definitely will not ruin the movie.

SPOILER FREE = Morning radio DJ, Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie), is making his morning commute to the radio station housed in the basement of the town's church. There, along with co-host Laurel Ann (Georgina Reilly) and producer Sydney (Lisa Houle), he begins his morning like any other. Confusion begins to erupt when their field reporter, Ken, calls in with the news that a mob of people are surrounding a doctor's office. Later reports indicate that the mob is chanting, seems possessed, and are devouring other people. Trapped inside the radio station, it is up to Grant and team to report on what they cannot see.
SPOILER FREE WITH DISCLOSED PLOT DETAILS = The first 20 minutes, like most other movies, simply introduces you to the three characters, their personalities, and their relationship. The morning starts to become interesting when their first few calls are not understandable. The situation becomes tense when their man in the field, Ken, becomes trapped. The army has become involved and quarantined the entire city of Pontypool trapping everyone, including the frightened reporter. Ken manages to hide himself out of the way but gruesomely details some of the attacks going on around him.

It is during this time that you begin to feel scared and panicked along with the trio inside the radio station. Facial expressions, mannerisms, and tone of voice from the cast pull you into their world. This is especially important because it is only these three main characters you are with for nearly the entire movie.

It eventually becomes apparent that the cause of the violence is the English language. Certain words posses hosts into becoming, well, zombies. These hunters are not lumbering, Romero zombies nor are they uber-quick 28 Days zombies. Just uncoordinated, mindless, flesh-tearing people. What words? How is it spread? Can it be cured? These are all questions you will need to answer yourself.

I will leave you with this: Nearly the entire movie takes place within the confines of the radio station. Nearly the entire movie focuses on the three main characters. You do not see the zombies until the last 30 minutes or so but you fear them throughout the entire movie. It's the situation and events that scare you. Yes, I would say the movie is scary. I would also call it tense. You fear the approach of the zombie mass. You fear the attack of the zombie mass. You fear the arrival of the zombie mass.
Pontypool is not an action-packed fright-fest and cannot be compared to any zombie movie before it. A unique and well-crafted vision that deserves a watch from any zombie lover.

Trailer: Does a great job of capturing the feel of the movie

Clip #3 SPOILER!

Clip #4 SPOILER!


  1. Since a majority of the movie takes place in a radio recording booth, could you possibly just listen to the movie and enjoy it as if it's an audio drama?

    I have the option to listen to headphones at work and ripping just the audio from DVDs to my iPod is helpful but not all movies translate well when just the audio is presented. I imagine from the clips that this movie might be able to accomplish this.

  2. That's a good question. I imagine it would work up until the last portion of the movie when events begin to take place a bit more outside the booth.

    So, yeah, you could probably get by just listening. But you'll be missing much of the intensity. I would watch first, then listen only the second round.

    Oh! There are also a few places where its subtitled and another few where there is no dialogue and they are writing on paper to each other.

  3. I don't think any portion of this movie would work well as simply audio.

    Even though it takes place in a confined space, you won't get the feeling of the claustrophobic nature of the camera angles and the tense closeups without seeing it on the screen.

    Even though the movie was originally going to be a audio drama for the radio, make no mistake: it is a movie. The visual elements are just as important as the audio.


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